Any proper study of methodological techniques in Pan African Studies–also known as Black Studies, Africana Studies, African American Studies, Afro-American Studies, African Diaspora Studies, Africology–has to show due consideration for the fact that the discipline is eclectic; that it is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary in character.
What that means is that the discipline is both derivative in utilizing the sociological method, the psychological method, standard historiography, etc., and it also introduces a uniqueness of question framing, data collection and interpretation superimposed on those mainstream models.
Secondly, Pan African Studies is social and behavioral sciences, art and humanities, health care, religion, philosophy, and more, even though you can still get into nasty intellectual squabbles by claiming you are teaching Black psychology, Black sociology or even Black history.
This broad scope and range, and seeming inability to focus on a particular paradigm and world view, is part of the reason that after 43-plus years of academic dynamism, there exists only a small handful of competent methodological texts for students and scholars of Pan African Studies.
In these days of danger and retrenchment for Black and Ethnic Studies–I only need to refer to the first hammer drop in Arizona recently–not having a viable critical mass of defendable methods and disciplinary processes, is a position far too vulnerable to sustain. It is a position far too close to the tar pits, and the ground keeps shifting us closer.
Here, we are defining African-centered research methodologies (also called both Afrocentricity and Africentricity) as consistent, systematic ways of identifying investigative issues or problems, framing questions intended to elucidate and/or interpret part or all of those issues, and collect data relevant to those issues.
Methodologies are not value-free and are not non-biased, objective approaches for research. They are, in fact, outgrowths of paradigmatic and theoretical perspectives and assumptions about human-to-human, and human-to-environment relationships. Methodologies will utilize their own vocabularies and concepts, organizational schemes, and rules of design.
Methodologies can be discipline specific (e.g., structural functionalism in sociology) or generic (e.g., quantitative research). Either way, methodologies are essentially preparatory and necessary for both analysis and public policy decision-making.
In effect, the selected methodology (as what data to collect, where to collect it, how to collect it, and how to organize it) determines the rigor and accuracy of the level of analysis and of the choice of options available for further action, both of which will follow the gathering of relevant data.
Thus, to say that methodologies are an extremely crucial aspect of intellectual endeavor is to repeat the obvious.
What is needed currently is a viable set of readable, usable and effective methodological texts for Pan African scholars and students (just as we also need a set of texts and visuals specifically designed to teach African American students how to pass standardized tests and exams, but that’s another article, another time).
Such a group of texts would cover, for example:
I. Literature, Art, Humanities: The Black Aesthetic and Authenticity
II. History/Politics: Africentricity Theory and Methodology (including Africology)
III. Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology: Decolonizing Methodology
IV. Political Economy: Underdevelopment Theory and Methodology
V. Law: Critical Race Theory
VI. Culture: Radical Critique as Methodology
VII. Health: People’s Health Practitioner Theory and Methodology
VIII. Mathematics: Cultural Counting and Analysis
IX: Demography: Finding African Descendant Genealogies and Site Analysis
X. Pragmatism and Methodologies: Writing a Competent Thesis/Dissertation Proposal
A single word to the wise should be sufficient. Black academicians, step up.